A US destroyer and a Canadian frigate sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday in the latest joint operation to bolster the route’s status as an international waterway.
Beijing considers it its own democratic Taiwan and the narrow body of water that separates the island from mainland China – one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.
The United States has long used “freedom of navigation” passages through the Taiwan Strait to pull back against Chinese claims, and Western allies have increasingly joined these operations.
The USS Higgins, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax frigate HMCS Vancouver “performed a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on September 20 (local time) … in accordance with with international law”. Seventh Fleet said.
“The ship was passing through a corridor in the Strait that is outside the territorial sea of a coastal state.”
Canada said HMCS Vancouver was en route to join an ongoing mission to enforce UN sanctions against North Korea when it went ahead with the USS Higgins.
“Taiwan Strait’s routine transit demonstrates our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” Canadian Defense Secretary Anita Anand said in a statement, using a different term for the Asia-Pacific region.
A spokesman for China’s Eastern Theater Command described the latest transit as “public hype”.
“The troops are always on the alert, resolutely oppose all threats and provocations and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Colonel Shi Yi said, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV.
British, Canadian, French and Australian warships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait in recent years, sparking protests from Beijing.
They also frequently navigate the South China Sea, another vital waterway that Beijing maintains is under its domain, despite a 2016 Hague ruling rejecting its claims and rival claims from multiple neighbors.
The last time American and Canadian warships passed through the Taiwan Strait was 11 months ago when the destroyer USS Dewey and the frigate HMCS Winnipeg made the journey.
The last joint passage came a day after President Joe Biden reaffirmed that US troops would come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.
This was the fourth time Biden made such comments, despite Washington’s long-standing official policy of “strategic ambiguity” — intended to both fend off a Chinese invasion and discourage Taiwan from provoking Beijing by formally declaring independence. .
Each time, after Biden’s comments, the White House said there was no change in US policy toward Taiwan.
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